There’s an election today, ave you heard? If you haven’t, this post is not for you. This post is for those of us who are refreshing FiveThirtyEight every 45 seconds to see if any new polls have come out, hopping over to Twitter to read dispatches from political reporters and pundits all over the country, and then hopping over to Facebook to post passive aggressive comments directed at our Gary Johnson-supporting cousins. In other words, those of us who mayyyybe haven’t been “working” on our “jobs” quite as hard as we could have been lately.
Yes, these last few weeks have been rough. I’ve watched all four debates, and then read countless articles about each one of them. The first thing I do in the morning is check Twitter to see if news of any new surreptitious videos or crazy attack ads or embarrassing gaffes have broken overnight. By the time I’m installed in front of my computer where I’m supposed to be actually working, my attention span is shorter than normal. I listen to NPR when I’m in the shower and in the car. When the phone rings, I’ve started to actually hope it’s a pollster calling to ask my opinion. Since I live in a swing state, this isn’t totally delusional; it’s happened a handful of times.
In short, I’ve gone election-mad. Many of these pockets of time—those first few minutes of consciousness, down time in the shower and the car, mid-afternoon lulls—used to be reserved for thinking about work. Even if my mind wandered, it might wander to big thinking about long-term projects, or to fiddling around with the day’s to-do list. Now it’s all Romney’s taxes, Obama’s second-term agenda, and those binders full of women.
I’m not the only one. Bettina Seidman, a career coach, wrote in to say she’s been closely following political news online, on TV, and in newspapers. And she is a better election-obsesser than I am, since she’s actually working for her cause:
I made a commitment to volunteer for several candidates by making phone calls from phone banks and from home, several times each week. I did need to postpone some client meetings, but I hope to have the satisfaction on Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning) of contributing to the success of my candidate for President and my candidates in several Senatorial races.
Elections matter, the Supreme Court matters, civil rights matter, the economy matters and my social and cultural interests are very important to me. Just working every day and making money is not enough of a life for me.
In many ways, the election this year is less electrifying than it was in 2008. For Democrats, re-electing the nation’s first black president is not as historically thrilling as electing him. And for Republicans, well, no one’s actually passionate about Mitt Romney even if they’re passionate about seeing Obama out of office.
Still, it’s perfectly natural in these final hours to feel your attention wandering during meetings, or to surreptitiously hop over to a news site when you’re supposed to be finishing up a big project. Having an election obsession is only human. Or at the very least, it’s American.
Anyway, it’ll all be over tomorrow.